How To Moonshine

Fermenting &
Distilling Basics
Making Equipment
How to Make Moonshine Using Sugar How to Make Moonshine Using Grain Moonshine Recipes

Making Moonshine Using Grains

Fermenting and distilling moonshine from grains is perhaps just a little trickier than using a sugar based wash. The reason for this is that grains contain starches that must be converted into fermentable sugars in a process called saccharification and this introduces additional steps prior to the fermentation process that must be performed correctly or you will not yield any significant quantities of alcohol from your efforts. The hows and whys of saccharification are explained in some detail in the Fermenting and Distilling Basics section of this website on the Preparing a Grain Wash page. This is well worth a read if you have not already done so as it will give you a basic understanding of what is required to mash grains successfully.

This section of Distilling Moonshine will take the reader through a step by step guide on how to mash, ferment and distill a Bourbon. It is important to note that the first step, which covers gelatinizing grains such as corn that have a high gelatinization temperature, is optional and need only be performed when required. If you were making a malted barley whiskey this step would not be required, in fact the enzymes in the malted barley would be rendered inactive by high temperatures and your whiskey would be a failure. The recipes in the moonshine recipes section will specify if any of the grains will require gelatinizing prior to mashing. As a rule of thumb you should never add the malted grains to the mash if the temperature of the mash is higher than 67°C (143°F).

Our example Bourbon recipe is quite an easy one that contains readily available ingredients that can be conveniently purchased, some at a home brew supplier and some at a stock feed or pet food supplier. For this recipe we required-
  • 2kg Malted and Cracked Barley
  • 1kg Cracked Rye (can be malted or unmalted)
  • 4kg Cracked Corn
  • 20 litres pure water
  • 1 Satchet of Distillers Yeast
Both the Barley and the Rye can be bought quite cheaply at a home brew supplier who keeps grains for all grain beer brewing. Some styles of beer require Rye and of course the Barley will be readily available as it is the key ingredient of beer. The cracked corn can be bought at a rural stock feed supplier or some pet food stores. You should make sure that the cracked corn has not been treated with any anti-fungal agents as this might be very bad for your bourbons flavour. It may also make it unfit for consumption or possibly poisonous.

Your water should be clean and fit for drinking, preferably without any added chlorine or flouride. Some distillers run the water from their drinking water supply through their stills. Distilled water is quite pure and suitable for our purposes. Purchasing a bulk pack of mineral water from your local supermarket is another option that can add a unique flavour to your spirit. I buy 15 litre bottles of a locally sourced mineral water and add that with pride, after all part of the taste of a spirit is the locally produced ingredients. Scotch for example has a unique flavour because of the peat malted barley and the spring waters used that are sourced from within Scotland. If you want to make real Scotch you really should be in Scotland so why not make your own locally produced spirits unique instead?

So lets begin on our step by step journey through making moonshine from scratch using grains. Please consider taking the time to read each step thoroughly and carefully before you start. If there are any points, equipment or processes that you are unsure about take the time to step back and understand what is required before you start. You will find most if not all of the answers on the things you are not sure about somewhere on this website and the site has been divided into sections that make finding this information as easy as possible. If you have not yet done so consider making a sugar based wash before tackling a grain based wash as sugar based washes are somewhat easier and allow you to get familiar with your still and the fermentation process before you take the step to making alcohol from grains.

If your first effort is not successful dont despair, not everyone gets it 100% right the first time around. Start with something simple like an all malted barley whiskey and work your way up into more complex recipes. Once you get the hang of it your success rate will be high and you will have the satisfaction of producing a quality spirit for you and your friends to enjoy.